The games we've been playing this week.
Tom Orry, Editor - Gears of War 3, Xbox 360
It seems Epic gets slammed by haters no matter what it does with Gears of War. If the studio produces more thrilling action sequences it gets called out for making a dumb game, yet if it tries to add some emotion to the story people ask why it bothered. I've just finished Act 3 of Gears of War 3 and I felt the emotional story here was handled as well as, if not better than in most other games I've played. The actions of the characters, the glorious way the moment is shown, the superb use of music, all comes together incredibly well. Sure, if you don't like Gears you'll just say it's oversized men shooting big guns and making alien heads explode, but I say Act 3 is amazing.
Neon Kelly, Deputy Editor – Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, PS3, Xbox 360
I always wanted Phoenix Wright to be in this game, but I never really paid much thought to how he could ever work. Being an extremely passive, reactionary character, I imagine Phoenix gave Capcom a few sleepless nights during the development of UMVC 3. Having finally found the time to check the game out for myself, it took about half an hour before I even began to work out how to use him. True, I could have used a FAQ, but where would the fun be in that?
Anyway, it turns out that Phoenix has three modes he can use. To access his more powerful attacks, you have to gather evidence by searching the ground. Even weirder than that, to access his most powerful mode you have to gather three specific items – and thanks to the random factor, this may mean discarding stuff you've picked up and searching again. Understand that you're supposed to be doing this while the fight is in progress, and that during a given UMVC3 match, there's rarely less than several hundred things happening on screen at once. In short, I reckon he's an utterly impractical fighter, but who cares when it's (technically) possible to trigger a crazy euro-rave version of Cornered / Turnabout theme? Like so many things in Marvel vs Capcom 3, this stuff is aimed squarely the fans. It's an unwieldy, manic labour of love – and that's fine by me.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Martin Gaston, Previews Editor - Battlefield 3, Xbox 360, PS3, PC
This week saw Back to Karkand make it to the 360 and PC, and as an owner of the Limited Edition I was prompted to download it for free. The verdict? These are excellent maps - Wake Island, in particular, is timeless - implemented nicely into Battlefield 3.
It had been a few weeks since I last played, however, and I found myself being absolutely destroyed over and over again. Sometimes I forget how hostile multiplayer modes can actually be; spawning right next to a grenade about to explode is an annoyance the first time it happens, but a nightmare the second.
Emily Gera, Staff Writer - Star Wars: The Old Republic, PC
Good news, everybody. I've re-entered the world of modern games. Gone are the days when I was stuck playing crap designed before my dog was even alive; so thanks, BioWare, for that. Now that I've got in on the Early Access of Star Wars: The Old Republic I can spend the next long week thoroughly ignoring all of my family so I can get a light sabre. This is what it's all come down to - for all the innate scepticism I felt for the game months back, I can already feel my ability to walk away from the live thing weakening. It turns out my initial issue wasn't that it's a better single-player game than Massively title; it's that I wasn't playing as a Sith Warrior. Choosing the right character is the secret to having a decent game experience in SWTOR, so really - honestly - choose wisely.